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ENGINEERING AND FAMINE RELIEF            269

rounded by lotus "Sowers, became grand promenades for the pleasure-
seekers of Hangchow.

The prosperity of Hangchow has always been connected with its
water supply. The growth of Hangchow as a city dated from the
Tang dynasty, when a minister opened up the lake and gave fresh
water to the residents of the city. Previous to that, it had been only a
small town. Before Su Tungpo began work on West Lake, it was
steadily narrowing, covered with rapidly multiplying weeds. Eighteen
years earlier these weeds had covered twenty or thirty per cent of the
lake surface. On his return, he was surprised and saddened to see that
they had rapidly spread to cover half of the lake. In Po Chuyi's time
jJie water supply of the lake irrigated large areas oŁ rice-fields; the
ffalling of an inch of the water level was enough to irrigate 250 acres*
and every twenty-four hours the lake could supply water for 800 acres.
All the work of Po Chuyi of the eighth century was now destroyed.

No sooner had Su Tungpo completed the work on the canal system
of Hangchow and the six small reservoirs in the city than he began
work on West Lake itself. From the engineering point of view it
was a simple job, involving merely the clearing out of the weeds. It
was an improvement that could easily be done, only none of his pre-
decessors had thought of doing it. Before the work on the small
reservoirs was completed, Su Tungpo sent a letter to the Empress, in
^pril 1090, outlining the reasons for his plan to open up and dredge
Afest Lake. In May he sent another letter, addressed to the premier's
)ffice, the executive board, and the imperial secretariat. If nothing was
lone about it, he said, in twenty more years the whole lake would be
covered up, and the people of Hangchow would be deprived of their
fresh-water supply. Su pointed out five important reasons why this
must not be allowed. Curiously, the first reason he advanced was a
Buddhist one, namely, that the fish would suffer. The other reasons
were usefulness in providing fresh-water supply, in irrigating rice-
fields, in supplying water for the canals, and lastly, in supplying good
water for making wine, which had something to do with the govern-
ment revenue. He proceeded to clear off the weed-covered area oŁ
twenty-five thousand square chang (a chang is ten Chinese feet), or
eleven Chinese square It, or approximately one square mile. For this
work he needed 200,000 man-days, on the supposition that one man-
day would clear about one square chang. Each worker would be paid
55 cash per day (100 cash equals one dime) plus three-tenths of a
bushel of rice. The whole project required $34,000, of which he had
already one half, and he asked the Empress to give another $17,000,

The request was granted, and Su Tungpo started work with
thousands of workers and boatmen. In four months* time he had the
work completed. The problem arose as to how to dispose of the